Legislation Creating A High Speed Rail Planning Board Passes Both Houses

July 06, 2010

Fueling the Economy of Tomorrow

Legislation (S8357 / A11553) that will create a temporary 11 member High Speed Rail Planning Board within the Department of Transportation (DOT), has passed in both the Senate and the Assembly.  The legislation is sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith, co-chair of the High Speed Rail Working Group of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and David F. Gantt (D-Rochester), Chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation.
“Adding the support of both houses to the support at the federal level is another monumental step towards implementing the vision of High Speed Rail in New York State,” Senate President Pro Tempore Smith said.  “This legislation will bring together experts, stakeholders and the public to address the critical issues to design, finance, build, operate and maintain a high speed rail system that will bring significant economic development opportunities to the State of New York.”
The Planning Board would advise the DOT on the implementation and the financing of a high speed rail system for the State.  In addition, the Board would make recommendations as to the organizational structure that should ultimately oversee the high speed rail project and operate it.
This legislation will:

  • Establish the new board, which would consist of the Commissioner of the DOT, the President of the Metro North Railroad, and seven members appointed by the Governor, with two on the recommendation of the Temporary President of the Senate, two on recommendation of the Speaker of the Assembly, and one each on recommendation of the Minority Leaders of the Senate and the Assembly.
  • Establish the qualifications for members of the Board and require that members be appointed within 30 days.
  • Require the board to meet publicly at least quarterly.
  • The Governor shall designate an Executive Director to assist the Board.

Powers and duties of the Board would include:

  • Providing DOT with input on environmental impact studies necessary for planning a high speed rail system and development of a transportation investment program.
  • Collecting public opinions, including holding at least six public hearings across the State.
  • Evaluating all available high speed rail systems and making appropriate recommendations for the State.
  • Researching options with respect to agreements with private entities necessary to permit high speed trains and making recommendations to DOT.
  • Reporting to the Governor and the Legislature, within two years, on a fully developed and consensus plan for the financing of the plan and the organizational entity that should oversee the State’s high speed rail program.

This legislation has no fiscal impact on the State and Board member positions are non-salaried.